29 February, 2012

Babywise: A Book Review

Oh, I'm anticipating all the comments I'm going to get for this post...

At the suggestion of several friends and a family member, I borrowed this book from my bestie.


Source: amazon.com via Sarah on Pinterest


On Becoming Babwise is a parenting book, like all others, full of suggestions and helpful tips to get you through the first weeks and months of your baby's life. Knowing other women/families who have done this method with their babies, I was pretty excited to read it. I actually started reading it during my first trimester, but my wise bestie told me it'd probably benefit me more later. She was probably right because pregnancy brain is serious business! So, about a week and a half ago I picked it up again. And couldn't put it down. Not because it's a stimulating read {I mean, it is non-fiction ;)}, but because I can totally see how this method works.

The "Babwise method,"as most people call it now, is based on one simple - yet very controversial - little thing called Parent-Directed Feeding (PDF). This is basically the complete opposite of demand feeding and everything attachment parenting-related, which I feel like has led to all of the controversy. The authors describe PDF as this:

"Parent-directed feeding is a twenty-four hour infant-management strategy designed to help moms connect with their babies and their babies connect with them. It is a proactive approach to infant care, meeting the needs of the newborn and those of the rest of the family... PDF is the center point between hyper scheduling on one extreme and attachment parenting at the other. It has enough structure to bring security and order to your baby's world, yet enough flexibility to give mom the freedom to respond to any need at any time."


So let's see... We're meeting the needs of the newborn and the rest of the family. We're not hyper scheduling; we're structured, yet flexible. I'm thinking this sounds pretty good. What about you?

The book goes on to talk about the differences between demand feeding, clock feeding {hyper scheduling} and PDF. I'm going to condense it a bit for you, so you can really see the difference.

Demand Feeding: Hunger Cue {from baby} + Nothing = Feeding Time


Clock Feeding: Clock {time} + Nothing = Feeding Time


PDF: Hunger Cue + Clock + PA {Parental Assessment} = Feeding Time


Just based on those mini-equations, I can see which one makes the most sense. I've known women who have demand fed... Offered the breast {or bottle} at any little sign of fussiness, without evaluating if their child was actually hungry. Babies can be fussy for pretty much any reason... So why offer food at the tiniest sign of fussiness? I just don't get it...

Babywise suggests that a feeding philosophy {PDF, demand feeding, clock feeding} "represents more than just passing on nourishment to a baby; it represents a complex value system with its own set of expectations and beliefs about what is best for a child."


Babywise is also more than just a feeding philosophy. It's also a sleep-training method. One of the opening lines in the book goes something like "who wouldn't want their infant to sleep?" Pretty sure the answer to that is obvious. Everyone wants sleep, even babies. Babywise combines Parent-Directed Feeding and Sleep/Wake cycles.

For example, you feed baby every 2.5-3.5 hours and begin the sleep/wake cycle with the first morning feeding. So, say baby gets up to eat at 7. You feed them, put them down for a little awake time and then down for a nap when they get sleepy. Let them nap and feed them again around 9 or 9:30. This is where the parental assessment comes in. The 2.5-3.5 hours between feedings is a suggested guideline. It's not set in stone. In fact, they say over and over again throughout the book that if you think your baby is hungry, feed the baby. The goal is just to keep them on a schedule that is flexible so that they get enough to eat and enough sleep. It's really that simple.

Contrary to popular belief, the authors of Babywise don't want you to starve your infant. It's in no way dangerous to put your newborn on a schedule. In fact, if you're breast feeding, it's better have a schedule! Why? Because if your baby is being fed on-demand, say, every 45 minutes, they don't get to the "hind milk" which has all the nutrition and antibodies their bodies really need. So basically we're talking quality feedings versus quantity feedings. More feedings don't mean they're getting more nutrition. Make sense?!

To take on more of the controversy behind this book, here are the guidelines for the first week of the baby's life:


  • Don't focus on the clock or time between feedings.
  • Focus on getting full feedings, which may mean keeping the baby awake to eat. {Feedings should last 30-45 minutes.}
  • Focus on getting at least 8 feedings in a 24 hour period.


Funny enough, the breastfeeding class I went to yesterday suggested the same things!

After the first week, Babywise suggests the following:


  • 7+ days: start the eat/wake/sleep cycle at the early morning feeding
  • 10+ days: start Parent-Directed Feeding cycles, feeding every 2.5 - 3 hours from beginning of one feeding to beginning of the next feeding. 


The authors also state that by 7-10 days, most babies will fall into a feeding schedule. But, as always, the parent is encouraged to feed the baby sooner than 2.5 hours if baby is showing signs of hunger.

Then at 5-8 weeks, the feeding cycles can grow to 3.5 hours in between feedings. They may have a growth spurt, but the parent is encouraged to add in an extra feeding, instead of letting the baby snack or cluster-feed. This goes back to quantity vs. quality feedings.

At around 8 weeks, most babies who are "on" the Babywise method start sleeping through the night. All babies are different, so not all of them do sleep through the night. The question is why do they sleep through the night so early?! Without overanalyzing anything, they're getting enough feedings during the day and they're getting good naps and wake times in.

Babywise also holds the standpoint that sleeping through the night is a very healthy attribute for babies.

"Imagine your spouse getting no more than three hours sleep at a stretch for one week. Would you expect this to impact his or her attitudes, actions, and overall accountability? Certainly the negative effects on his or her mature central nervous system are widely known... Now consider an infant whose central nervous system is still developing. Even more is at stake. To what extent, then, does sleep deprivation negatively impact and infant's developing central nervous system? Imagine parenting in such a way that your baby is not allowed to sleep continuously for eight hours for even one night our of three hundred and sixty five."


There is so much more that this book talks about {sleep props, baby wearing, co-sleeping} that I can hardly get into in one blog post. Here's what I'm trying to say:


  • Babywise won't harm your baby.
  • Feeding on a flexible schedule won't harm your baby.
  • Training your baby to sleep through eat/wake/sleep cycles won't harm your baby.
  • All parenting books are guidelines for parents to follow and Babywise is another.


I plan on implementing the Babywise method once Charlotte is here. I can tell you that I feel much more comfortable with this method than the attachment parenting, demand-feeding method. As pointed out in the book, Joe and I feel that our child can gain nothing better by sleeping in our room and being fed every hour than she can gain by sleeping in her crib, in her room and being fed on a flexible schedule. {Babywise suggests that co-sleeping can produce feelings of insecurity - rather than security - when you eventually move the baby out of your bed or room.} Personally, knowing that I will have a schedule for her provides me with so much more comfort and peace of mind than the thought of feeding her whenever she cries. I should also add {to combat the "this isn't healthy for your child" comments} that my bestie and my SIL both have implemented this method with their babies. All 3 of the babies are happy, healthy, well-fed, have never gone hungry and have never been watched for being underweight.

Now, I realize that many people are attachment, demand-feeding parents. I can't - and won't - tell you what is best for your child, so please extend me the same courtesy. I see so many benefits from using the Babywise method that I can't find any reason not to do it. Many of you may feel the same about your methods. While I would love to turn an attachment parent into a Babywise parent, I won't pressure anyone. =) I will say, though, that if you're pregnant or looking to change things with your baby's schedule {or lack thereof} get this book!

If you're interested, there's also a Babywise mom blog out there called, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom, that has some really great tips. She probably explains this method far better than I ever could.

NOTE: I was in no way compensated for reviewing On Becoming Babywise. This was simply something suggested to me by friends and family that I wanted to share with my readers.

12 comments:

Heather said...

I have the book and it does offer some great tips! However, not all of it worked for my children. My first baby was in her own room by 4 weeks. My second was in my room well after 4 MONTHS (she had a reflux problem that required us jumping out of bed at night when she would choke). Baby #2 also wakes up after about 30 min if she isn't put to bed with a full stomach so the eat-play-sleep didn't work with her. It did help get my first on a good schedule though!! I still occasionally pull out the book to look something up. I love that we have somewhat of a schedule for the girls but we have to be flexible. If I wasn't flexible I would be at home all of the time :)

heather said...

well i fed on demand with my first and will with my second. but i did check to make sure there was nothing else wrong first. however he was nursed and there is no mistaking a hungry face and anything else with a nursed baby. however he slept through the night around 8 weeks because my sister in laws(whos baby was 11 days older) dr told her that when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night try other things to see if they are ACTUALLY hungry and half the time they weren't. so when a passy was what he wanted i didn't feed him. gave him his passy and right back to bed he went. a lot of people told me how mean i was for doing that but if he wasn't hungry i wasn't going to MAKE him eat every time he got up. after 2 weeks of this method he stopped waking up in the middle of the night. so i think its a great thing. but you will find what works best for you and baby. like as my sons mom i knew when he was hungry and when he wasn't. and you will be the same with yours. just dont let someone tell you that your doing something wrong. i knew i was doing something right and good by my child and it worked. he never starved.

also a little hint. not sure if your breast feeding but if so. keep a pad of paper and a pin by your bed at night for feedings. my son didn't always do both breast during the night. but then i was so sleep deprived and i would forget which side he already did when it was the next feeding but when i wrote time of feeding, which one and for how long i knew. it helped a lot.

Elizabeth said...

I'm glad you have a plan. It's good to be prepared and I know I sure had no idea when I brought my first home.

I swore my baby would never sleep in my bed. Little did I know God would give me a baby who would scream and never stop unless he was sleeping on my chest. I thought I would just go around town doing everything I used to do, but with a cute little baby in tow. God sent me a colicy, high needs baby who screamed if not being held and late into the night with no stopping.

I know you don't want advise...but just give yourself a break. If trying to follow any routine isn't working for you. It's OK...babies sleep through the night eventually and they're only little for such a short time. Enjoy it...hold them, cuddle them and nurse them. Don't let it stress you out. I see so many of my friends freaking out over schedules and feedings and sleep. It kills me. Don't ruin that newborn time stressing over it. It's too short.

Maranda said...

I have 2 completely healthy, well-adjusted, rested, full-bellied children that are both Babywise kids. My daughter is 6 and still craves and needs a routine...we don't call it a schedule because it seems too regimented. Our son is 18 months old and is sky rocketing off the growth charts (daughter did as well). They both slept through the night by 8 weeks and I nursed both of them. I had a fantastic mentor mother that has 4 beautifully healthy children and I never hesitated to call her for any still little reason.

We absolutely 100% believe in PDF and suggest it to anyone who has a newborn and seeks out our opinion. I've mentored 2 young mothers in my community through texts and facebook on PDF. It's a wonderful program and is in no way harmful, neglectful, or mean to your baby.

Charlotte will thrive and I know you said you have family help, but I'm always happy to answer questions.

Krista said...

i did babywise with karina. it worked for us. she is still very routined at 13 mos old. but it works for us.
PDF is much easier on the mama than on demand feeding round the clock. when she was a newborn we would feed her every 2 hours unless she had her hunger cues. but we wouldn't wake her if she was asleep at the 2 hr mark. we would go about 3.5 hours if she slept that long.
i blame hippies for the backlash on this book. they are all like wear you baby while you are topless so your baby can nurse constantly! which in theory sounds great but in practice, not so much.
also you should get rid of the word verification.

Rebecca said...

I have the book, but honestly never have read it; but the funny thing is that the feeding "schedule" is described exactly as we've done for all three of our girls! And it worked great for them.

Though also remember that sometimes when they aren't hungry, they may just want to suckle. That is perfectly normal for infants, they just suck, lol, with no real intention of expressing milk. Now if your baby will take a pacifier, then there ya go. But some babies won't take one, but still have a need to suckle - and then there ya go, you may find yourself being a paci on occasion; not to just soothe their fuzziness as a quick fix, but rather provide for their innate infant need to suckle. There's definitely a balance. ;)

Concerning having your baby in your room or not - all three of our girls started out in our room for the first 3-4 months, then were moved out. We experienced no problems at all in the moving process as is described. On the contrary, we found in the beginning that they needed to know we were close. Heck, they just spent almost 40 weeks apart of me and now I'm supposed to put them another room? My strictly personal opinion on this is that is not healthy either.

So like with anything in childbearing and child-rearing, you've just to take it as it comes, with each child. This book may work perfectly in line with your first and then you might have to throw it in a box with your next one because he/she is totally different. Ya just never know. It's truly amazing how different each child is. :)

Also, have you looked at all into "Baby Wearing"? Studies have shown that wearing your baby a *total* of 3 hours a day (so doesn't have to be all at once) reduces their crying by 43%. It's NOT meant to "cater" to them, but rather when they're awake and happy, that their time is split between being worn and not.

Jessica said...

I think you did a great review!! I have heard about this book and will definitely check it out later on in my pregnancy! (I am just 17 weeks, so I will look into it more in my 3rd Tri). I like the idea of the PDF, and honestly that is what were trained to do when I worked in a daycare setting (accept obviously we weren't the parents there), but we couldn't just give them a bottle because they were fussy, we had to actually make sure they were hungry not just bored, wet, dirty, or needed some snuggles!

Bonnie said...

I haven't read the Babywise Book (or any other parenting book because I lose interest in the first few pages) but I have heard it goes completely against the AP (attachment parenting). I wouldn't say that I am completely AP, but a lot of it I do agree with and practice. When my kids were newborns I would take the first few days to "get to know them" and there really are a lot of cues that even newborns do to let you know they're hungry. Sometimes they're hungry and sometimes they just want to be soothed. The biggest thing I don't like is the "cry it out" that I hear baby wise promotes... a lot of people do this with newborns and babies only a few months old. Parenting books are a good thing (if you can get through them) because they give you a starting off point and a lot of different ideas to try to see what works with you, husband and baby ;)

Heather said...

I think that what ever you start out doing and practice will be what she thrives with!

I have never heard of this book or method, but it is to funny that this is almost exactly the way i did it with my little girl and she thrives on routine as do I. She is alomost 5 months and is still co sleeping in our room, but sleeps through the night and will be moved out very soon to her crib in her room, she has slept there some, but I have found it was harder on me to work full time and meet hers and my needs and get enough sleep if she wakes up cold or wants her paci. So I moved her back for a little while. We still use this method really even though she is on a bottle because she was alergic to dairy and I just couldn't produce to her demand, the girls never got with it. She is happy and thriving and I know that little miss Charlote will as well!

Chantal said...

I totally meant to follow this when Penny was born but funny things happen when babies come! After the first week or two I started to follow some of the guidelines, but Penny is such an easy baby, I really didn't need to. I just tried to stick to the eat-wake-sleep cycle as best as possible, and she already eats every 2.5-3.5 hours on her own (except if she's sick or having a growth spurt, but that's only a day or two). Nowadays she's more on an eat-wake-sleep-wake-eat cycle haha.

Chantal said...

Oh and Penny has slept in our room since the beginning and I like it that way. But as soon as we get her nursery set up in Alabama, she'll be in her own room. It was just so easy at the beginning when she's up all the time to just get up and not have to walk very far.

Jen said...

If you are planning to do the Babywise routine, I highly recommend buying an Itzbeen. It is basically 4 timers, plus a switch for L or R breast. It helped us a lot because we could hit the "feed" button and if we forgot or lost track of time, the Itzbeen would remind us how long it had been since the last feeding/diaper change/nap, etc.